Lee v. Orr
The Path to Victory:
On February 21, 2014, A federal court today ordered the Cook County Clerk’s office to provide marriage licenses immediately to same-sex couples seeking the freedom to marry, rather than require them to wait until June, the default implementation date for the marriage equality bill passed by the Illinois legislature last year.
The ruling officially applied to Cook County, but many other county clerks in Illinois applied the ruling to their own county and began issuing marriage licenses. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan later clarified that any clerk in any Illinois county is able to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and Illinois Governor Pat Quinn urged the clerks to follow the ruling's guidance.
On Friday, December 6th, Lambda Legal and the American Civil Liberties Union filed Lee v. Orr, a class action lawsuit on behalf of all Illinois same-sex couples who applied to marry in Cook County before June 1, 2014. The organizations also filed an emergency motion seeking immediate issuance of marriage licenses to all same-sex couples facing terminal illness. The court granted the emergency motion in cases of terminal illness on December 11.
On December 24th, the ACLU and Lambda Legal filed a motion for summary judgment asking the court to declare that it is unconstitutional for Illinois law to exclude same-sex couples and their children from marriage until June 1.
Darby v. Orr and Lazaro v. Orr
On November 13, the Illinois House passed a marriage bill, and Governor Pat Quinn signed the bill two weeks later. Consequently, Lazaro v. Orr and Darby v. Orr were stayed until June 2, 2014 before being dismissed entirely on December 17, 2013.
On May 30, 2012, Lambda Legal and the American Civil Liberties Union filed two separate lawsuits in trial court against Cook County Clerk David Orr on behalf of 25 same-sex couples seeking the freedom to marry. The lawsuits directly challenged the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, which prohibits same-sex couples from marrying and disallows Illinois from respecting out-of-state marriages between same-sex couples.
The two cases, Lambda Legal's Darby v. Orr and ACLU's Lazaro v. Orr, have been consolidated into one case. The lawsuit only has state constitutional claims, meaning that it only challenges the Illinois law excluding same-sex couples from marriage.
Shortly after the cases were filed, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan requested to intervene in the cases in support of the same-sex couples. The case was stayed while the United States Supreme Court considered arguments in a separate marriage case, and on July 10, 2013, when the stay was lifted, Lambda Legal and the ACLU of Illinois filed a motion for summary judgment.
The request for summary judgment makes the case that now that the central part of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act has been struck down and married same-sex couples are able to access the federal protections of marriage, committed couples in Illinois are additionally harmed by the denial of marriage in their state.
On September 27, the trial court denied a motion to dismiss the cases.